The world is finally beginning to understand that our bodies have been evolved to stand and walk and not to sit. Our earliest ancestors walked frequently on the ground and climbed trees and this allowed them to easily adapt to changing habitats and environments.
Unfortunately, the modern world has made sitting more comfortable and tempting. Studies show that most people, on average, sit for about 7.7 hours each day – that’s almost the amount of time an adult spends sleeping! There are some people who may even sit up to 15 hours a day.
Martha Grogan, Cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, states that a sedentary lifestyle can increase one’s risk of heart disease. In fact, she mentions that the risk of heart disease for people who spend most hours of their day sitting is just as high as smoking. However, the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle don’t end here.
Too much sitting is linked to a myriad of health problems associated with weight gain, which not only includes heart disease but diabetes too. If you’re sitting for more than 7 hours a day, you’re obviously not active during this period. Sitting too much reduces the activity of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme which aids in the metabolism of fat.
Your blood sugar levels spike each time you have a meal. Your body goes under a calorie-storing mode for four hours. However, studies show that people who reduce their activity i.e. by sitting more, experience increased blood sugar spikes. This can become detrimental to the body and increase your risk of type-2 diabetes.
In addition, a large study with 800,000 participants which compared people who sat the least with the ones who sat the most found that people who sat more had a 90 percent high risk of cardiovascular disease, 112 percent higher risk of diabetes, 147 percent higher risk of death lead by a cardiovascular problem and a 49 percent higher risk of death by any cause.
Standing more is the only solution
Your body is designed to stand upright and move around, therefore, to counteract the sitting disease, you need to stand more. Even if you exercise an hour every day, the effects of sitting for more than 7 hours a day cannot be negated.
Researchers at the University of London have found that those whose occupation primarily involves standing and/or walking have a roughly 32 percent lower risk of early death compared to those involved in sedentary jobs.
Furthermore, you burn more calories while standing because it involves more muscular contraction, especially in your thigh area. This improves your vascular health and your blood sugar levels.
To reduce sitting time, try the following tips:
1. Always take the stairs and walk up when you’re going on an escalator
2. Stand when you’re taking public transport, such as buses and trains
3. Alternate standing and sitting while working and set a reminder to get your tush off the chair every 30 minutes
4. Set up a standing workstation to do some of your work on and to take calls
5. Consider switching from TV time to more active hobbies
6. Instead of having a meal when you meet up with your friends, go to the beach or the park for a walk instead
7. Walk for a little during your tea breaks
8. Instead of calling your co-worker, go to his or her desk
Everybody has a few bad habits and some of them may be the reasons why you aren’t able to shed those extra pounds that have been clinging to you since forever. Your first step should be to find out what these bad habits are in the first place so that you can create an effective plan to eliminate them. We’ve combined the most common reasons why you may not be able to lose enough weight no matter how hard you try:
1. You’re not having enough protein
Getting too many of your daily calories from carbs (especially simple sugars) and fats is one of the most common ways people sabotage their weight loss efforts. Your body takes twice as long to digest protein compared to carbs, thus making you feel fuller and satiated for longer. Furthermore, protein consumption stabilizes blood sugar levels and reduces cravings. Some great sources of protein include lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and nut butter, protein powder, whole grains such as quinoa and collard greens.
2. You’re not sleeping enough
How is sleep connected to weight loss? Well, here’s the deal – if you’re not getting enough sleep, you will have a lot of trouble trying to shed that extra fat. The reason: your body produces two hormones, leptin, and ghrelin. While leptin stimulates feeling of satiation during a meal and tells you when you’re full, ghrelin increases your appetite. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that not getting enough sleep elevates ghrelin levels and reduces leptin levels and increases ghrelin levels causing increased cravings for sugary snacks during late night hours.
3. You’ve eliminated certain foods for good
When you try to cut off certain foods altogether, you crave for them even more with time. Your diet may be going fantastic right now but like with most people, there will come a point when you will want to call it quits and indulge in your favorite unhealthy foods.
Many people think that they have to give up what they love when they’re on a certain diet, which include diets that cut out carbs, sugar, gluten, dairy or fat. This can make a diet unsatisfying and sometimes even unhealthy, especially if you’re cutting out a macro.
The solution: have everything in moderation and learn to control your portions. Soon you’ll develop a habit of having an occasional “unhealthy” snack and still enjoy your new lifestyle.
4. You’re grazing too much
Let’s face it; most of us have been grazing since we were kids. We would open the fridge every time we pass it and graze the fridge, have a slice of that cake here, and have a spoon of Nutella there and maybe a cookie or two. Unfortunately, this habit follows you till adulthood and you continue to do it thinking it’s harmless to have a tiny bit of everything delicious in the fridge. You’ve just consumed several extra calories which can add up if you do it every day. Plan your meals and avoid snacking unnecessarily.
5. You eat while you’re distracted
Eating while browsing the internet, driving, going through your Instagram feed or watching television may cause you to overeat. The solution is to stop eating when you’re focusing on other things or stop getting distracted while you eat. Try to eat slowly so that you can enjoy and respect the nutrients in your food. Chewing more triggers the brain to think that you are eating more, allowing you to eat less than you normally would.
6. You’re not drinking enough water
You’re already dehydrated by the time you are thirsty so avoid waiting too long to rehydrate. About 70 percent of your body is water, therefore, try your best to have 8 or more glasses of water per day to replenish your system.
When you’re dehydrated, you might feel hungry as well even though it’s not your next meal time yet. Instead of reaching out for a snack, have a glass of water and see if you feel better. Always carry a bottle of water with you so that you are hydrated throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water will also ensure you don’t eat too much during your meals.
7. You’re rewarding yourself with unhealthy food
Even if you exercise intensely every day, you need to focus on what you put in your body. Exercise is a way to burn some extra calories, tone and condition your muscles and improve your cardiovascular health. The benefits of exercise are countless, but it cannot replace a healthy diet. Therefore, no matter how much you exercise, avoid rewarding yourself each day with unhealthy food -- it will only add more calories than you spent during your sweat session.
Myth: Long periods between meals slows the body to starvation mode
Fact: The starvation response is a term for reduced rate of metabolic activities and organ functions. It occurs when:
Food intake is drastically reduced or eliminated over many days and weeks. However, if a meal is skipped or ritual fasts are performed, the body does not go into starvation mode.
Digestion uses about 10% of the daily calories in a 24 hour period. If normal eating does not occur, there will be a slight decrease in calorie usage due as less time is spent breaking down the food. However, there will not be the process of energy conservation or the decrease in organ function that occurs during starvation.
During true starvation mode, the decreased need for calories equals about 200-300 per day and the calories are provided to the body by the breakdown of fat and muscle tissue.
Myth: Low Carb Diets Help with Quick Weight Loss
Fact: Dramatic restriction of carbohydrates may temporarily show a quick drop in the number on the scale but it is not because of a loss of body fat or a change in body structure. This is due to:
1. Carbohydrates have water in their chemical structure and can hold more water than other energy sources.
2. Drastic restriction will cause a temporary loss of weight due to a loss of water and possibly lead to a measure of dehydration.
3. There is no loss of body fat from these diets, which is the main objective of weight loss. To lose one pound of fat which equals 3500 calories, it requires either eating fewer calories or using more energy from exercise.
4. Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy for the body and should not be eliminated nor should they be consumed in excess.
5. Fad diets do not ultimately succeed, as they are not in keeping with the way the human body functions. With this type of diet, it is common to increase fat intake as a result of the decreased levels of carbohydrate, with the fat contributing far more calories.
6. Individuals can also find themselves becoming tired, as the primary energy source of the body, carbs, has been restricted. Water in the body is tightly regulated and will eventually return to normal levels, and with that, the weight itself will return.
Myth: Obesity is Due to a Thyroid Problem
Fact: Thyroid problems and their metabolic effects are uncommon with the exception of women over 60. Obesity itself is what causes changes in hormones such as:
1. Insulin (conversion of glucose to energy)
2. ghrelin (feelings of hunger)
3. leptin (feelings of fullness)
These hormones ARE produced in the over-weight or obese person but the cells of the body become resistant or insensitive to their effects. The result of this is:
1. Muscle tissue which make up 35% of a woman’s body and 45% of a man’s body become resistant to insulin resulting in a
A. Higher level of sugar in the blood possibly diabetes.
B. The unused glucose is converted to body fat which increases the problem of excess fat
2. The job of ghrelin is to let you know that there isn’t any more energy in the blood for the functions of the body; it’s telling you to “feed me”. If you don’t, the body will consume its own fat stores (that’s normal) but more importantly muscle tissue, and that’s bad.
3. The job of leptin is to tell you that enough food has been consumed for the body’s needs, and any more will just be converted to fat, “stop eating”.
The over-weight person is not getting these signals correct because they are overweight, not that they are over-weight because their hormone levels are insufficient or poorly acting.
Myth: Gluten is bad for you
Fact: Gluten is the protein found in grains. And while a very small percentage of the population is allergic to this protein, there is no negative effect on everyone else. The protein in plant based foods is incomplete (lacks all the amino acids to maintain muscle tissue) and must be combined with a different plant based protein such as:
Rice or wheat (lacks lysine but has methionine)
Beans (lacks methionine but has lysine)
To eliminate gluten from the diet is unnecessary. And for those who are vegans or don’t consume enough protein from animal sources to supply sufficient dietary protein, the muscles of the body will have no chance to be replaced during normal growth of cells with lean body mass and the shape of the body will suffering.
Running is a great way to lose weight and in particular body fat. Running as an activity falls under the category of aerobic exercise as it:
A. Increases the heart rate!
B. Increase the rate of breathing and thus the amount of oxygen transported to the muscles!
The importance of these two factors is that they enable the body to begin to use body fat as the primary energy source instead of glycogen. In the beginning of your run, stored carbohydrates in the muscle are the energy source. This lasts for about 30 minutes until the amount of glycogen is reduced by 30%
While you can’t measure the reduction by yourself, it occurs when your heart rate -
A. Rises to a level above 65% of your maximum heart rate which is, 220 - Your Present Age
B. The time spent exercising reaches about 30 minutes
At this point, your body will automatically shift to using a fat tissue. The reason that this happens is to preserve the glycogen remaining in the legs and buttocks for general use when you stop running.
The act of running by definition means that at a given point in time, both feet are off of the ground at the same time while walking always maintains one foot on the ground. This extra effort of propelling yourself into the air requires more calories to be used and thus causes more weight to be lost during your run. And while it is true that walking briskly will cause your heart rate to rise to a level that may be equal to running, walking uses fewer calories than running. The number of calories that a person, either man or woman will use is determined by:
A. Your body weight
B. The length of time spent running
C. The speed at which you run
Running is usually done at a rate of greater than 4 miles per hour and will burn about 500-600 calories per hour for an 180 lb(82 kg) person. To calculate your own rate, multiply the percentage difference between your weight and this subject. For example, if you weigh 135 lbs. (61 kgs), that is 25% less in body weight and so would use 25% fewer calories or about 375-450 calories per hour. A person weighing 225 lbs. (102 kgs) would use 25% more calories or 625-750 calories per hour.
Running faster will burn more calories as it takes more energy to increase the speed. However, the increased speed that causes a moderate increase in the use of calories, also causes an increase in the heart rate as well. There comes a point at which running stops being an aerobic exercise and becomes an anaerobic one due to the heart rate being too high. At this point, the body stops using fat as the energy source and
A. Goes back to using glycogen for energy
B. Begins to use muscle tissue as an energy source
Imagine the shape of well-trained marathon runners. They not only have lost most of their body fat due to high energy running, but also have lost most of their muscle mass as well. If 65% of your maximum heart rate is the low end of the correct heart rate range, the upper end of the range is 80%.
A moderate rate of running will enable:
A. Maximum fat loss to occur
B. A greater amount of exercise to be done without fatigue
C. A shorter recovery period prior to you next session allowing for the most weight loss to occur.
“Running yourself into the ground” won’t cause the most weight loss possible. But rather the more that you run in total, the more weight you will lose!
The word calorie is often viewed in a negative light, as in the fewer the better. A calorie is a measure of energy that while many people are trying to reduce the number that is in their diet, the reality is that to sustain life, a certain number are necessary to consume each day. Is there a way to determine how many are needed or what type are needed? Yes is the answer to both questions.
The number needed
To determine the necessary quantity of calories is very simple, multiply your weight in pounds times 10 or in kilograms times 22. This is the TOTAL that is needed on a daily basis to maintain your current weight. To lose weight, you must either eat fewer than that number or add exercise to your daily routine in order to use more calories than that number.
Uses for calories
The calories that you need on a daily basis are simply to maintain your body the way that it is now, which is known as your metabolic rate or simply your metabolism which means:
1. The continual function of your brain, heart, and all of the other organs of the body. In fact, the brain itself uses 25% of your daily needs. This total represents 65% of your normal requirement.
2. Maintaining the shape and tone of the muscles of the body use 25% of the day’s total.
3. Maintaining the normal body fat which exists mainly as a long-term energy source uses the remaining 10%.
Types of calories
While the total number is of primary importance regarding body functions, calories are found in three different forms with different primary purposes
1. Carbohydrates: The primary use is as a short-term energy source with the length of time being up to about 2 hours. Simple carbohydrates found in fruit are absorbed and used in minutes whereas complex carbohydrate must first be digested and take longer to be absorbed and used.
2. Proteins: These are used to build the muscles of the body which control how we move.
3. Dietary fats: The primary use is as a building block of the trillions of cells in the body and also to transport some of the vitamins that are provided by food.
The percentage that you should eat of each type is equal to the uses outlined above; 65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, 25% should come from protein, and the remaining 10% from dietary fat. Part of the problem with weight control and obesity is that commonly, people eat 45% carbs, 45% fat, and 10% protein. Reducing the number from fats and increasing the number from carbs, will allow for a greater amount of food to be eaten, while at the same time reducing the total number of calories in the diet.
Timing of meals
The amount of time necessary to digest and absorb a meal is 1/12-2 hours. Hunger and fullness are controlled by two hormones and this cycle normally lasts for 3-4 hours. Everything put into the stomach will be digested all at once; there isn’t an order to it. The idea is to eat enough energy now that lasts for 3-4 hours and then repeat at that time. If more calories are consumed than needed for that time period, the extra will be converted and stored as body fat.
By eating smaller meals more frequently, hunger can be avoided and the creation of fat deposits can be avoided. The idea of eating large meals with long time periods in between does not keep hunger from returning as the stomach has been emptied after two hours and thus the hunger hormone will return. But the number of calories eaten in excess of the amount needed for the 3-4 hour window will be deposited as fat.
A portion of food equals the size of your fist which is 3 ounces (84 grams) for a woman and 4 ounces (112 grams) for a man. This is for both proteins as well as carbohydrates with one of each making a meal. Some people will see this as a small amount of food, but the hunger hormone (ghrelin) stops being produced as soon as food enters the stomach and the fullness hormone (leptin) will start being produced in 5-10 minutes. This cycle lasts for 3-4 hours when hormone sensitivity is normal. Obesity disrupts the body’s sensitivity to the hormones. Obesity does not occur because of hormonal problems, the opposite is true, hormonal problems results from obesity.